3 Reasons Golf Courses
Should be OPEN during Pandemic
By Scott Orban,
Chief Operating Officer and P.G.A. Executive Professional
McKenzie Meadows Golf Club
It is Safe:
Golf by it’s nature encourages social distancing and no sharing of any objects other than a very large golf course. Group size is a maximum of 4 people vs the 15 max the Government has mandated. Operators and golfers are committed to modifications to ensure public safety recommendations are met.
Health and Wellness:
Excellent physical and mental exercise outdoors in fresh air.
According to the National Allied Golf Associations (Alberta), golf generates $2.4 billion dollars of business and employees 42,000 people annually in Alberta.
So why do many disagree with opening of golf courses? Perhaps it is because many have experienced golf events designed for social interaction. Some politicians attend these events, drive around, meet and greet without even playing the game … and yet they have an opinion about the true game of golf? If this is the only way you see golf, then you really do not understand the game, it’s culture or what it looks like during the pandemic.
Golf is an individual’s game. Golfers swing a long club to hit a hard ball into a hole hundreds of yards away. The game encourages social distancing of more than 2 metres because injury will occur if you get too close to a golfer taking a shot. Talk or make some noise close to a golfer and other problems arise.
Golf Courses (18 hole - Par 72) are built on average of 150 acres in size. Most holes are 3 ½ - 5 football fields in length. Each golf group consists of 1 to 4 people and the game takes approximately 4 hours. The balls fly all over the place, so it is rare for two golfers to hit their balls within 2 meters of each other.
Only Golfers who have paid and have a designated time to play (tee time) will be allowed at the course; thus eliminating large groups of people showing up to the property at the same time. Clubhouse restaurants are currently closed, thus golfers will go from their cars to the 1st Tee where the game starts.
Each tee time is 10 minutes apart. This gives each group appropriate space from each other to ensure safety as the high speed balls will cause injury if they hit someone. Thus, great distance between groups is part of the game.
It is a rule of golf to have your own equipment. No equipment… no play! In addition, it is a rule that you cannot share any equipment, not even balls. It is as if the golfing fore-fathers were planning for a pandemic and put this in place to ensure golfers were able to play.
Golfers walk approximately 7-9 kilometres during a game. Great physical exercise with fresh air and focus. Golf courses release an abundance of clean oxygen because the game is played on a vast area of healthy grass, trees, shrubs, flowers, and ponds. The anti-oxidants are off the charts (no study to show this, so you be the judge). The focus required to golf is incredible for the brain; golfers who control their breathing and focus hit better golf shots. A challenge and a discipline also practiced in meditation to reduce stress.
What about power carts? Golf course operators have instituted protocols, which include disinfecting carts and allowing only one golfer on a cart to ensure safe distancing. I had a friend who went golfing with his wife in B.C. where golf is allowed by the NDP government. Just the two of them played together in their group and the Pro told them they must ride separately to ensure social distancing. He was shocked they couldn’t ride together. After some discussion with the Pro about the rule, his wife interrupted “See, I told you we weren’t allowed to have sex last night”.
What about the bathroom? Male golfers prefer to go outside in the trees or bushes and some female golfers may also (unlikely) take advantage of being one with nature. For those that need to go to the bathroom, course operators will be disinfecting the WC much more often.
When the golf group meets on the putting green to end each hole, they will need to be conscious of social distancing. The good news is golfers already adhere to a code called golf etiquette; this allows for proper manners, and perhaps calling out others when they don’t abide by acceptable etiquette. Golfers accept this as the way it is. Wish that could happen at the grocery store or walking down the street these days.
The game has ended. No traditional handshake… the restaurant is closed… so golfers head to their car and go home.
So in summary; A full golf course would consist of about 96 golfers spread out over 150 acres or the equivalent of 1 to 1 ½ acres per person at most courses. Each group is separated by space because balls are hard and can cause serious injury. The rules of golf do not allow you to share any equipment, golf is a non contact sport and it is sometimes acceptable to pee in a bush. Golfers will call each other out and this is called golf etiquette. And finally, you can have sex with your spouse, but you cannot drive with them on a golf cart…. After being cooped up in your house through this, who really wants to drive with their spouse anyway!
Swing Responsibly My Friends